First off, let me say I love this site. I have always loved pearls, but have only invested modestly because I didn't have a good source for pearls. The ones I could find were either poor quality, obviously overpriced, or a combination of the two. Now that I have found this site and the wonderful online merchants who are members, I feel that my pearl-buying glory days have begun. There is something about pearls that just fascinates me, and my wife shares my enthusiasm. Finally I am poised to release her from her second rate strands! So far I have bought only for my wife because I haven't figured out how to integrate them into a man's wardrobe yet. Perhaps cufflinks? We'll see.
But to the question: I have noticed that some sites are listing freshwater pearls that are higher than AAA grade, most notably the freshadamas. I understand there is not a standard grading for these types of pearls. What makes them so special? How would I recognize Freshadamas (for example) from a strand of AAA pearls? Is this something that an admitted pearl novice would notice right away?
I love the idea of solid freshwater pearls and I want to buy the best, but on the other hand I don't to overbuy on quality at the expense of quantity and size (funds are not unlimited). I never really understood or liked the metallic glaze-like sheen on some of the high end pearls I have seen to date, and from reading this forum I have learned these were probably treated akoyas and not my cup of tea (although the dramatic size did appeal to me).
Do higher grade pearls make a difference mainly to collectors, or is it something that will be appreciated by non experts just in daily wear?
Is it something that can be explained in words and pictures, or do I just have to bite the bullet and buy some?
I want to start off with a standard sized set of necklace with bracelet and earrings, just to get her used to quality pearls, before I start having real fun buying her pearl gifts.